quinta-feira, 10 de maio de 2012

Mysteries (cont.)

Around the world there are stories of mysterious monsters said to live in remote forests and mountains. In the Northwestern United States (California, Oregon, Washington) and Western Canada (British Columbia) there have been stories and sightings of an apelike beast since the early 1800s. The Indians called the beast Sasquatch (the hairy giant of the woods).  In 1958 a forest worker in Humbolt County, California, named Jerry Crew made plaster casts of footprints of what he called “Bigfoot”. 

Then in 1967 two men looking for Bigfoot in Northern California shot a short film of what they say was a Sasquatch. No bodies or other physical evidence of Bigfoot have ever been found and there are few if any other photos that I know of.
So the film is really the only thing we can examine. Now what’s interesting about the film is that it seems to show a female bigfoot of all things. And if it was a fake who would think of making a female fake and not a male one? As well the way the beast walks had been studied by scientists who say this is the correct way that an upright ape would walk if it had evolved enough to walk on two feet rather than four like, say, a mountain gorilla from Central Africa.  

Of course North America has no apes or even monkeys for that matter. There are bears- and big ones too- but Bigfoot has never been described as, or mistaken for, a bear. The Bigfoot in what is known as the Patterson film is either a fake or something very unusual indeed. Many have suggested that the Bigfoot in the film is just someone in costume. But experts have said that it would have to be one huge person in costume and one with a head piece making her taller than the tallest man. As well the appearance of the beast is said to be so real-looking that not even the best Hollywood costume designers could have produced something like this in the late 1960s. The first Planet of the Apes film with Charlton Heston was produced in 1968. But the technological realism seen in films these days just wasn’t attainable back then. Even the original costume designer of that The Planet of the Apes, John Chambers, has denied any involvement in the famous bigfoot home movie.

The Abominable Snowman
On the other side of the world- in a land as distant and exotic as you can imagine- is said to live another apelike creature called The Yeti, or The Abominable Snowman. In the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, the highest mountains in the world, early British explorers and mountains climbers heard stories told by the local people of a Wildman who lived in caves amongst the sacred mountains around them. In 1921 Lt. Col. Charles Howard Bury led the first large scale expedition to survey and climb Mount Everest which had recently been confirmed as the world’s highest mountain. At great distances they claimed tom have seen large creatures walking across the high mountainsides. But when the climbers drew near they found only large unidentifiable footprints in the snow. English newspapers gave the beast the name of “abominable snowman” based on his local name, the Metoh-Kangmi. Other local names included the Dzu-the, Meh-teh and the most common one used today, the Ye-the (yeti).

Like the American Sasquatch there are few if any photographs of the Himalayan Yeti. Plenty of footprints have again been reported and photographed over the years, even by Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay, the first men to climb Mount Everest in 1953. Norgay’s father was one of many locals who claimed to have met a Yeti during a mountain trek. Hillary, on the other hand, has stated many times he does not believe in the Yeti.
Still it is worth noting that quite a number of other respected persons have claimed to have seen the Yeti. The American Sasquatch has been seen by no one of any authority as far as I know. Persons who have seen the Yeti include mountain climbers John Hunt, leader of Hillary and Norgay’s expedition, and the German super-climber Reinhold Messner, the first man to climb all 14 of the world’s highest mountains without the use of bottled oxygen to combat the thin air at high altitude.

The locals believe the Yeti guards their most sacred mountains from invaders. Yet again, why has the body of one never been found? Why no other proof but inconclusive sightings and footprints that could so easily be faked? There are, of course, other elusive creatures living in the remote Himalayan Mountains where few people venture. The legendary snow leopard is one that has seldom been photographed or filmed. And there is also a strange species of high altitude brown bear, coincidentally called the Meti, whose existence was only recently confirmed by scientists and is worshipped by the locals in ways similar the Yeti. This bear is called the Himalayan or Tibetan Blue Bear which might account for the white-colored fur the Yeti is supposed to have. Could this be the basis for the Yeti legend? In a local monastery near Everest it was once possible to see what is claimed to have been a decaying hand and preserved scalp of a Yeti. But the items have since gone missing and who knows what they really were. Some say just remains of the Tibetan Blue Bear. Others say they belong to the Yeti. What do you believe?

Lastly I want to tell you that in the Amazon where I lived and work during the last 20 years we heard stories of a creature called the Mapinguari. The animal most closely resembling the Mapinguari is the giant land sloth believed to be extinct but which may still live deep in the dark forest of Amazonia, another remote and difficult place to visit and explore. Again no body has been found. No photos have been taken. But the locals claim it exists, and that it attacks and eats people from time to time. And with other creatures in the Amazon such as anaconda, pink river dolphins, fresh water sting rays and 12 foot catfish, it’s quite possible. The Mapinguari might even be just an overly large Amazon anteater.

Remember, unless you can prove it otherwise why shouldn’t legendary creatures like Nessie, the Sasquatch, the Yeti and many others exist. The world is still full of mysterious and exist places to explore such as the Amazon, the Himalayas and our own Northwestern forests. Do you believe? 

]     ·         Two very good books about cryptozoology (the study of hidden animals) have been written by Roy Mackal, co-founder with Bernard Heuvelmans of the now defunct International Society of Crytozoology. They are The Monsters of Loch Ness (1976) and Searching for Hidden Animals (1980).
      ·        The best contemporary source for material about the Loch Ness Monster is Adrian Shine of The Loch Ness Project (www.lochnessproject.com)

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